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What English word has the most meanings?


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The English word with the most meanings / definitions

I am wondering what English word has the most different meanings/definitions. My vote would probably go for the verb "to get". If you include the phrasal verbs, this verb has an incredible amount of meanings.

 

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I'm going to have to agree with the F word haha. Besides that though I think "mean" is a good one.

1)mean- the average of a group of numbers

2)mean- unkind or malicious

3)mean-convey definition

I'm sure there are better words. I can't think of any without looking them up.

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This made me very curious and I did look it up.  The winner is "set" with 464 definitions!  I was amazed that a single word would have so many.  But there are others with hundreds of meanings / definitions: "run,"  "go," "take" and "stand" are among them.   

This is really fascinating.  The full details are in this article:

http://puzzles.about.com/library/weekly/blmosdef.htm

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yes, "set" has a lot of definitions / meanings. I also came across this when I was googling for the right answer to this question. I am still quite surprised that some people here reckon that the f-Word has the most meanings. It does have quite a lot of meanings and is used in many occasions but still, compared to others, the use still seems rather limited to me!

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I am still quite surprised that some people here reckon that the f-Word has the most meanings. It does have quite a lot of meanings and is used in many occasions but still, compared to others, the use still seems rather limited to me!

Yes, I found this amusing as well.  I think it's because people use the F-word for all parts of speech -- noun, verb, adjective, adverb, etc. --that it must seem to mean so many different things! 

Multiple definitions of common English words is one of the challenges in learning the language, especially when the definitions seem so random: 

1)mean- the average of a group of numbers

2)mean- unkind or malicious

3)mean-convey definition

This is a perfect example. Really it makes no sense that the same word that is defined as "unkind" is also a a rather impassive term used in mathematics.  So to me, it's not just amazing that so many words have so many different meanings but that sometimes there is nothing -- e.g. common Latin root -- that connects the various meanings. 

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You're right LauraM, "set" does have the most definitions. It spans several pages in the average dictionary. I'm not sure I can think of that many meanings for it off the top of my head though: a group or collection; when a liquid dries or solidifies; a badger's home...I can't think of any more, but there's obviously hundreds of definitions I'm forgetting!

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There are some words which have polar opposite meanings... I don't know why but the word "gay" popped into my head when I read this thread.

Once upon a time 'gay' meant being happy and jovial, now it means, well you know what it means. Then there are these words - bitch, vixen, fowl, ass. I wonder what these poor animals ever did to have their name linked with such negative meanings! The word 'fish' has many meanings: the animal, to fish out or to draw out, 'oh fish!' - a swear word, fishy or something not quite right....

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  • 4 years later...
On 8/24/2013 at 4:02 PM, LauraM said:

This made me very curious and I did look it up.  The winner is "set" with 464 definitions!  I was amazed that a single word would have so many.  But there are others with hundreds of meanings / definitions: "run,"  "go," "take" and "stand" are among them.   

 

This is really fascinating.  The full details are in this article:

http://puzzles.about.com/library/weekly/blmosdef.htm

All along this time, I thought "run" was already winning with its 151 meanings...

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